We conclude this leadership organisational-vital blog series by asking an obvious question. When should a leader quit?
Leaders, good or bad, are professionally mortal. Leaders should know when the inevitable starts to happen and leave voluntarily. The inevitable in the context of this blog, equates to leaders understanding that they can no longer, sustainably add signature-value, to the bottom line at the organization they lead. Signature-value addition for the leader, is bringing to the table, sustained leverage that those they lead can tap into
Effective leaders play the role of the anchor and have to provide leverage for the people they lead. In effect, leaders are OD. tools for those they lead. The latter leverage the leader’s OD. mental superiority.
Leveraging a leader supports a process that transforms the ideas of those they lead from ‘basic’ to ‘complex’ value-creation proposition
How leaders become an effective anchor (leverage tool) for those they lead:
- By asking the right questions, and in the process helping those they lead shoe-horn their ideas – this is equivalent to coaching the juniors for growth of self and the organisation
- By taking on the work-products of the people they lead, improving them, and ensuring they make the next quality level – guarantees finesse
- By identifying the right external resources like consultants and other industry-network resources, and deploy them to add signature-value to the work of the team. The latter is another route to idea-hardening, and creating signature-value for the organization. For example, a flooded consulting labor market makes the selection of the ‘right’ consultant an extremely cumbersome exercise. The authority that consultants ooze, authentic or not, intimidates teams into not asking the right questions of the experts. Effective leaders bring the wit and experience needed to navigate the consultant and other network pathways
- Making the right judgment call – Often, making the right judgment call is about the leader knowing when to give the green-light to move ahead with an activity or process, the amber-light to hold to allow more reflection or observation, or the red-light to abandon action. Leaders play the traffic-light signalling role at the organization. Like the case is on the road when the traffic lights fail, disaster is likely to strike when the leader’s signalling ability fails for whatever reason – it may be due to personal, organisational or external environmental issue
Leaders rarely pick up the signal when they lose the ‘leverage-for-others’ competence, that makes them effective in their role. The latter is particularly the case at the bionically balanced entity due to the interplay between the leader’s role as: leader, strategy maker/overseer, chief structure designer (architect), and people manager. Leaders get mired into the daily OD. stuff, get too attached to the environment and start to lose their bearings.
Indeed, practicing leadership at the bionically balanced organisation is like swinging a pendulum. The leader oscillates between the four organisational-vitals [leadership, strategy, design (architecture), and people] and many never with certainty, tell which of the four OV’s are working well or not.
Usually, leaders assume that they are doing well in the usually menacing maze of OD. dynamics at the bionically balanced entity. However, the complex and fast moving organisational environment, create an OD. blind spot for the leaders – they get the illusion that they are still asking the right questions, providing hands-on support to their teams when needed, and that they still are making the right judgment calls.
In reality, the leaders enter a leadership satiety phase. When satiety sets in, stakeholders, both direct reports and other industry sector observers begin to question the leader’s attitude, behaviors, ability to manoeuvre and effectively command the leadership space
Leaders should not wait for others to observe that something is awry. After-all, when leaders ‘listen’ to their inner sense, they know it’s time to move on. Uncertain bearings at the bionically balanced entity is dangerous for both the leader and organisation. The latter can quickly degenerate into: sub-optimal performance, value loss for the organisation, and individual credibility issues.
Effective and smart leaders move on when they can longer sustain any of the above four leadership-anchoring variables. To move on, is no admission of ineptitude. To the contrary, it’s a clean break and a sign of sound and credible leadership.
Leadership maturity and success correlate with knowing when it’s time to move on to a new challenge. Trust your gut feeling.
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